Tag: Galveston (page 1 of 4)

Palm Beach Opens With a Splash!

The gates opened at Moody Gardens Palm Beach June 5 as guests were invited to stick their toes in the white sand, relax on the lazy river or take part in one of the many other ways they can rediscover their Happy Place. For many families, this was their first outing as COVID-19 capacity restrictions continue to lessen in Texas. The attraction will be open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday throughout the summer from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“We are excited to be able to welcome guests back to Palm Beach for a refreshing diversion,” said Moody Gardens President and CEO John Zendt, who added capacity restrictions will significantly limit access and planning ahead will provide a better guest experience. “We strongly recommend that guests plan ahead and arrive early as entry will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis.”

During the weeks that Moody Gardens was closed a comprehensive Health and Safety Program with extensive sanitization and training was implemented for the well-being of all staff and guests. The Pyramid Promise also offers guests an experience that is clean, safe and fun.

Guests are encouraged to purchase their tickets online. This approach minimizes personal contact through cash handling and ticket disbursement at cashier windows. Moody Gardens has also moved to a cashless digital payment policy property wide and is only accepting credit/debit cards to reduce contact transactions.

Admission to Palm Beach is $26 for adults and $20 for children ages 4-12 and seniors.

For more information please visit www.moodygardens.org or call 409-744-4673.

PALM BEACH OPENS WITH A SPLASH!

The gates opened at Moody Gardens Palm Beach June 5 as guests were invited to stick their toes in the white sand, relax on the lazy river or take part in one of the many other ways they can rediscover their Happy Place. For many families, this was their first outing as COVID-19 capacity restrictions continue to lessen in Texas. The attraction will be open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday throughout the summer from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“We are excited to be able to welcome guests back to Palm Beach for a refreshing diversion,” said Moody Gardens President and CEO John Zendt, who added capacity restrictions will significantly limit access and planning ahead will provide a better guest experience. “We strongly recommend that guests plan ahead and arrive early as entry will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis.”

During the weeks that Moody Gardens was closed a comprehensive Health and Safety Program with extensive sanitization and training was implemented for the well-being of all staff and guests. The Pyramid Promise also offers guests an experience that is clean, safe and fun.

Guests are encouraged to purchase their tickets online. This approach minimizes personal contact through cash handling and ticket disbursement at cashier windows. Moody Gardens has also moved to a cashless digital payment policy property wide and is only accepting credit/debit cards to reduce contact transactions.

Admission to Palm Beach is $26 for adults and $20 for children ages 4-12 and seniors.

For more information please visit www.moodygardens.org or call 409-744-4673.

Spring Bird Migration – Halfway Report

By: Animal Husbandry Manager Greg Whittaker

 

As we hit the halfway point for April, I finally caught up on entering eBird lists and tallying the species I’ve encountered here at Moody Gardens. It feels a bit like my 2018 experience as I bird my way through my day. Binoculars and camera as permanent accessories while I deliver paperwork across property, or pick up deliveries from the warehouse. With all the typical spring migration activities cancelled and very little bird-nerd camaraderie happening, my time outdoors is my link to normal. I feel so very fortunate to be going to and from work in such a natural wonderland that my daily commute doubles as an enjoyable leisure activity.

Through the first 7 days of April, I encountered 109 species of birds. Through the second week, I’ve added 39 more for a whopping 148 species so far this month. There’s a reason Galveston County rates in the top 3 in the nation for birding in April. As I write this, I’m missing the nervous buzz that accompanies our annual Featherfest preparations. Meeting fellow birders as we check in at headquarters. Scouting eBird lists for upcoming trip locations to get the most up-to-date information for our guests. There’s still quite a buzz in the air for those of us fortunate enough to get out and bird. The spring migration is certainly still happening and in fact, the persistent north winds over the past few days have led to a great fall-out with loads of colorful passerines scouring our vegetated woodlots for the snacks they offer. I chose the image above for this blog as it’s the namesake bird for Houston Audubon Society – the Yellow-throated Warbler that adorns the logo. This fella dropped in early this afternoon after a tough trans-Gulf journey. If you’ve got the time, get outside and spend a few minutes looking through those hedges and trees. The birds are here!
In addition to the shear excitement of ticking off new species every single day, I had some surprising encounters over the past 2 weeks. On April 1st as I was leaving property, I stopped to take a look in one of the Oak groves favored by spring migrants. I did catch a female Cooper’s Hawk fly in with a fresh catch, a Rock Dove. As she tore into it, she was oblivious to me stalking in closer to snap a few pictures. Just as I got in a good location and started clicking away, the male flew in and mated her, answering the questions I’d had on whether this was a pair or not. She didn’t even stop eating and certainly didn’t share with him. This also answered the questions on why the Yellow-crowned Night-Herons and Green Herons weren’t busy nesting in this grove as they have in years’ past. As of 3 days ago, she’s sitting on a nest and he’s still showing up to bring her food, and the grove’s not particularly birdy otherwise.

Through the first couple days of the month I encountered a Red-shouldered Hawk eating a Blue-winged Teal, and a Louisiana Waterthrush catching and eating a fairly good sized Sheepshead Minnow. On the 6th, I found a freshly dispatched Barn Swallow mounted on the barbed wire fence adjacent to a Loggerhead Shrike’s perch. 3 days later I found a freshly killed Sora in a similar state. How does a Shrike kill a Sora and carry it up to a barbed wire fence 6 feet off the ground. All I can say to Mrs. Shrike is that’s SOME provider – she must be impressed. Just yesterday, that same Red-shouldered Hawk with a taste for blue, offered me a great photo-op as it unceremoniously dismantled one of those gorgeous Indigo Buntings that are flitting about property by the dozens.

Easter Sunday was the night for nighthawks as a late afternoon birding excursion offered views of over 2 dozen Common Nighthawks streaming in off the Gulf. We were fortunate enough to tease out 2 that were smaller, flying more erratically, closer to the hedges, with white flashes at their wing-tips. The lesser seen Lesser-Nighthawk.
Monday after Easter was Sparrow day. The strong northwest winds delivered a plethora of the little brown jobbers with enough interest in foraging that they allowed adequate viewing and photo-ops to decipher 9 species, plus the ubiquitous House Sparrow. The usual suspects including Savannah, Swamp and Lincoln were augmented with Chipping, Clay-colored, Song, Vesper, White-throated and the striking Lark Sparrow.

The past few days have been blessed with the blustery weather that’s unkind to the migrating birds, but kind to the birders. Warblers, Vireos, Buntings, Orioles, Tanagers, Grosbeaks, Thrushes and the Sparrows mentioned above are here in good numbers. The 3rd week of April is statistically the best week for migratory bird watching here in Galveston County. If you can get outside and spend a few hours appreciating Nature’s bounty in an appropriate socially distanced manner, please do. It will do your soul some good.
Stay safe peeps.

Greg Whittaker is Moody Gardens animal husbandry manager and, as a birding enthusiast, frequently leads free Birding 101 and Birding 201 tours around the island.

Moody Gardens Recognizes Six Outstanding Animal Care Professionals

Zookeeper WEEK.Logo 2006 VThis week is National Zookeeper Week and Moody Garden’s Life Science and Exhibit Operations department has taken this opportunity to recognize the dedication and hard work that goes into this challenging career path. Moody Gardens would like to thank each and every person on our team for providing the highest level of animal care and well-being while creating personal connections between our guests and our conservation, education and research efforts. The LSEO management team recognized 6 individuals with outstanding animal professional awards. These employees have had a significant impact on Moody Gardens through outstanding dedication, competence, conscientious performance, excellence in engaging guests and ingenuity.

The 2015 Outstanding Animal Care Professionals are: Dave Brossette, T’Noya Gonzales, Karen Holcroft, Marci Kurtz, Maggie Reynolds and Sean Salinger. As evidenced by their dedication to their job, only 3 recipients were present at the awards lunch on Tuesday, 21 July as duty called the others away.

Marci Kurtz, Sean Salinger and T’Noya Gonzales receive their recognition.

Marci Kurtz, Sean Salinger and T’Noya Gonzales receive their recognition.

Taveta Golden Weavers

Taveta Golden Weavers – Rainforest Pyramid

A group of 22 Taveta Golden Weavers are the newest addition to the Rainforest Pyramid! This small, yellow bird is an African (Kenya and Tanzania) species of songbird that weaves oval shaped nests. The males are the nest builders and they usually are colonial nesters. Females pick a mate based on the male’s skill at weaving. The males are already making themselves at home and are working on more than 3 different nests at the moment. Make sure to look up and see if you can spot them next time you visit the Rainforest Pyramid!

MG Sweetheart Scavenger Hunt!

With its peaceful foliage in the Rainforest Pyramid and beautiful marine life in the Aquarium Pyramid, Moody Gardens is a great place to spend this Valentine’s Day with your sweetheart or family.

VDAY_ScavengerHunt_2015While you are at Moody Gardens, you can participate in the Sweetheart Scavenger Hunt. Learn about the intricate relationships and courtships that take place in the animal kingdom with this scavenger hunt. And best of all, you could earn a family 4-pack of Moody Gardens tickets by participating.

Here are some of the facts you will learn while participating in the scavenger hunt:

  • Humans aren’t the only ones that give presents when they are wooing a lady. Male penguins give their potential love interests a pebble. They search for the smoothest rock, and if the female accepts, she puts it in her nest and parenthood soon follows.
  • When piranhas find themselves in love, they turn almost completely black to discourage others from courting. Think of it as a clear sign of “Hey, I’m taken.”
  • Some women wish men would experience the ups and downs of pregnancy. In the seahorse kingdom that’s exactly what happens, as the male delivers the babies. Scientists aren’t 100 percent sure why it occurs – maybe it is to help make more babies or just share some of the load from females – but it certainly is one of the most unique relationships under the sea.
  • A scarlet ibis believes in true love. When a male successful woes a female, they will remain partners for life.
  • Harbor seals flirt by rolling and bubble-blowing. You can read about our Moody Gardens harbor seal couple, Porter and Presley, here.

Learn about these and the other animals at Moody Gardens when you visit on Valentine’s Day weekend. Be sure to download the Sweetheart Scavenger Hunt and get your cameras ready to win a great prize!

And don’t forget to dive into a romantic underwater dining experience at the Aquarium Pyramid with the Sea of Love Valentine’s Dinner on Feb. 13 or 14.

Enjoy a special menu created exclusively for the Sea of Love Dinner. You can reserve a table with a view of one of the unique locations throughout the Aquarium Pyramid.

Dinner for two is $140 on Friday and $180 on Saturday. It also includes rose for her, souvenir photo and Aquarium Pyramid admission. Saturday’s dinner also includes a bottle of wine or champagne. Biologists will also be in attendance to answer any questions you may have about the spectacular residents of the Aquarium Pyramid.

To reserve your spot, please call 1-800-582-4673 ext. 4368. Reservations are on a first-come, first-serve basis. Calls will be answered and returned daily. RSVP by February 11. Click here for menus.

Sweethearts of the North Pacific: Presley and Porter

Porter-&-Presley

One of the Moody Gardens Aquarium Pyramid’s most famous couples is Porter and Presley. These harbor seals met in 2006 and immediately became inseparable.

porter

Porter, male Harbor Seal

Porter, who was rescued as a pup off the coast of Maine after being abandoned by his mother, made his home at Moody Gardens in 2001. He had excellent care by the staff at Marine Animal Lifeline Rehabilitation Center, where unfortunately an infection caused him to lose his eye.

Porter would not hunt the live fish that he was offered, and biologists decided Porter would not be able to survive in the wild. Since he was unable to be released, a search for a new home for him began and Moody Gardens created a home for him at the Aquarium Pyramid.

Young Presley in 2006

Young Presley in 2006

Five years later, Presley joined the Moody Gardens family. After her companion at the Memphis Zoo passed away, caretakers knew the young harbor seal needed a companion. Even though Porter had fur seals and sea lions in his North Pacific Exhibit, the addition of Presley provided better companionship. Two habor seals together provided a more natural situation and made future breeding an option.

In 2011, Porter and Presley had a pup named Riley, after the former President of Moody Gardens Mike Riley. The couple had conceived in the past, but that was their first successful birth.

Presley-&-Rylie

Presley and pup Riley

The newborn seal and first-time mother Presley spent their time together bonding through activities like nursing and exploring their exhibit. Riley has since moved to the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, where she has two young males to hang out with and possibly have pups of her own.

You can visit Presley and Porter at the Sea of Love Valentine’s Day dinner on Feb. 13 and 14. This romantic dinner includes a three-course meal, rose for her, souvenir photo and Aquarium Pyramid admission. The Feb. 14 dinner also includes a bottle of wine or champagne.

For prices, visit www.moodygardens.com/calendar/aqvalentines.

To reserve your spot, please call 1-800-582-4673 ext. 4368. Reservations are on a first-come, first-serve basis. Calls will be answered and returned daily between 3-4 p.m. RSVP by February 11, 2015.

Creating ICE LAND Ice Sculptures: The Ice

One of the first challenges when creating ICE LAND was where to find 900 tons of ice. That’s not exactly something you can make in your refrigerator using an ice cube tray.

To create the ice, Moody Gardens enlisted the services of Flying Penguin Ice in Bryan, Texas.

To create the ice, Moody Gardens enlisted the services of Flying Penguin Ice in Bryan, Texas.

Creating the ice wasn’t a simple process. First the colors had to be mixed in some of the biggest ice cube trays you will ever see.

Creating the ice wasn’t a simple process. First the colors had to be mixed in some of the biggest ice cube trays you will ever see.

After several of days freezing, the ice was removed…

After several of days freezing, the ice was removed…

The color was tested…

The color was tested…

Clear block of ice

Clear block of ice

And it was shaved to the proper size.

Blocks were shaved to the proper size.

They made it as smooth as possible

They made it as smooth as possible

One of the many trucks ready to take ice to storage area

One of the many trucks ready to take ice to storage area

It took several days and 42 truck loads to bring all 6,000 blocks of ice to Galveston.

It took several days and 42 truck loads to bring all 6,000 blocks of ice to Galveston.

Moody Gardens staff unloaded the ice

Moody Gardens staff unloaded the ice

The giant tent was quickly filled with pallet upon pallet of ice.

The giant tent was quickly filled with pallet upon pallet of ice.

By the end, some of the ice was stacked up as high as five levels.

By the end, some of the ice was stacked up as high as five levels.

Stay tuned for our next Creating ICE LAND Ice Sculptures blog series! We’ll be taking a look at how a 28,000 square foot tent is built from the ground up.

ICE LAND will be a frosty new addition to the Festival of Lights and other holiday attractions this year as Galveston makes its holiday transition into a Winter Wonder Island. Admission to the exhibit is $26.95 for adults, $21.95 for seniors and $15.95 for children, and will also be included in a Moody Gardens Value Pass that includes admission to the various Moody Gardens attractions and Festival of Lights for $59.95. A two-day pass is available for $79.95. Courtesy parkas will also be distributed to each guest. Visit moodygardens.org/iceland for more information and to purchase tickets. 

#MGSharkQuest

Find the MG Shark Spots around property, marked by a fin, during Shark U Week and take a picture at each location. Upload to Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #MGSharkQuest to be entered to win a behind-the-scenes shark tour for up to 4 people.

CLICK HERE to download clues

Here’s how the shark quest is going so far:


Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, July 19!

IMG_0005

Galveston is the Winter Wonder Island of Texas, and this season the island will offer visitors more than 1,000 magical holiday events! This summer, be sure to visit with Santa at a variety of events throughout the island. You’ll also have the chance to win some cool prizes by participating in Galveston’s Photo Contest.

GALVESTON ISLAND PHOTO CONTEST, 2 – 6 PM:

It’s Christmas Around the World as Santa travels from the North Pacific to South Pacific in the Aquarium Pyramid to Asia, Africa and the Americas in the Rainforest Pyramid and Palm Beach. Free Santa Hats are available as supplies last. Get your picture and go to Galveston.com/holiday to register for prizes! Stop by the Garden Lobby with the kids and enjoy some free Arts & Crafts activities from 2 – 4 p.m. as well.

snowmanlSNOWMAN SAND CASTLE COMPETITION, 2 – 4 PM:

A few slots remain, so register now to participate in our Snowman Sand Castle Competition on July 19 at Palm Beach. Participants will receive a Snowman Sand Castle Building Kit, then will have until 3:45 p.m. to build their very best snowman. Judging will begin at 3:45 p.m. and winner will be announced at 4 p.m. The winner will receive a Penguin Encounter Certificate for 4 people and tickets to all Moody Gardens Attractions (Including ICE LAND Ice Sculptures, Festival of Lights and Arctic Ice Slide) for 4 people.

CLICK HERE for complete rules and to register for the competition (limited spots available)

GET SOCIAL & WIN PRIZES WITH #CHRISTMASINJULY:

Celebrate Christmas in July by connecting with us through Social Media and you’ll get the chance to win a Holiday Four-Pack to Moody Gardens, which includes tickets to all attractions as well as the ICE LAND Ice Sculptures opening November 15, 2014.

TO PARTICIPATE: Visit our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram each week in July and participate in our Christmas in July trivia questions by using the handle @moodygardens and the hashtag #ChristmasInJuly. If you answer correctly you will be entered into our weekly drawing. Remember to use our handle and hashtag!

This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook, Inc., Twitter, Inc. or Instagram, Inc. Must be 18 years or older to win.

IMG_9984JOIN US THIS HOLIDAY SEASON!

ICE LAND Ice Sculptures makes its debut November 15 – January 4 for the first time in South Texas. Marvel at the artistry of the internationally acclaimed VGA Ice Carving Team from Harbin, China, as they bring their extraordinary talent to sculpt 900 tons of ice into a vast and amazing display of towering ice sculptures held at a cool and constant 9 degrees as Galveston makes its transformation into the Winter Wonder Island. There is more than ever for your family to enjoy! Be among the first to experience the ICE LAND Ice Sculptures attraction, Festival of Lights, Arctic Ice Slide, Ice Skating, holiday films and much more!

 

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